The idea came to first-year N.C. Central football coach Jerry Mack randomly: Why not hold a spring scrimmage in a city with a strong alumni base?
He hadn’t done anything like it anywhere else during his stops as an assistant coach, and there wasn’t much standing in the way.
The only problem wound up being the weather.
A N.C. Central scrimmage that originally was to be held at 12:30 p.m. today at Rocky Mount High School has been postponed to April 5.
The scrimmage, which is being called “Eagles Down East,” still will be played at 12:30 p.m.
Admission is free.
So while the dates have changed slightly, Mack still will be able to achieve the goal he set out to accomplish.
“I thought it would be something different that we could bring to the table,” Mack said. “... It was just one of the those things, trying to always be creative and stay on the cutting edge. It was just an idea we had.”
Fans will be invited down on the field after the game and will have the opportunity to purchase season ticket packages. Mack said the school’s administration was on board quickly, and there weren’t many issues to scheduling the event.
“I think it’s a chance to get some exposure across the state and especially down in the part of the state where we have a large alumni and fanbase,” said Mack, who added that the office of admissions will be in attendance, catering to potential students.
Mack said the event will be a controlled scrimmage during which he hopes to evaluate his players. While Mack grade his team and try to set his in-season roster, he also expects that the game will be interesting to fans.
It will feature what one of Mack’s players said was a new brand of football for the school – a more unified one.
“It’s a situation where guys are going to fly around, and they are trying to give great effort on the field,” Mack said. “That’s what I want to see.
“I want to get a good product.”
Next Saturday will be a chance for N.C. Central graduates to see their team up close, and it could also be a chance for potential students to experience what fall Saturdays might be like.
It’s also an opportunity for a few current players to see their families again – and for their families to see them.
Sophomore running back Shaheed Swinson, who averaged 3.4 yards per carry last year, is from Kinston. While his hometown isn’t far from Durham, he hasn’t been back in a few months. Swinson said a few family members are coming to watch him play, but he expects the rest of the crowd to produce a fun atmosphere.
“I expect the atmosphere to be pretty good,” Swinson said. “I feel like the alumni will be pleased and excited, and probably a little shocked about how our offense is going to be. ... We look more on beat this year.”
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org